Early help for families in Liverpool

Group of children
Group of children

An early intervention programme to support families where children are at risk of neglect is set to be established in Liverpool, in partnership with the city’s schools.

The ‘School Family Support Service’ will work with families where there are issues affecting a child’s wellbeing, educational attendance and attainment, but is not serious enough to meet the threshold for social work intervention.

The 22-strong team of support workers will provide support for up to 800 families per year. They will receive help for up to three months to improve parenting, help strengthen family life and relieve some of the pressures they are under.

Triggers for support will include children with poor attendance or exclusions at school, a member of the family with a criminal offence or issues with substance abuse, domestic violence or a specific health need.

Councillor Jane Corbett, Cabinet member for children’s services, said: “Bringing up children can be really tough. For a whole variety of reasons, families can find themselves in a position where their problems are impacting on the health and wellbeing of their children.

“Our schools know their children and their families extremely well and teachers are best placed to spot when something is wrong at home, which is why they are integral to this new initiative.

“By working in partnership, the School Family Support Service will enable us to identify and support families where there are problems and prevent them from becoming crises.

“Intervening early is absolutely crucial, because there are huge consequences in the emotional impact on all concerned.

“It is vital we make sure our children get the possible start in life, and it makes far more sense to support families in their hour of need, rather than letting issues grow or get out of control.”

Success will be measured in terms of improvements in school attendance and behaviour, better health, reduced crime and antisocial behaviour and progress in finding work.

Liverpool has a higher number of young people on child protection plans due to neglect than comparable local authorities.

The £800,000 annual cost of the project will be entirely funded from the council’s Troubled Families Programme budget for the first year. It is expected that after this schools will help support it using Pupil Premium cash.

A report recommending the creation of the service will be considered by the Mayor’s Cabinet on Friday 6 December.